Working with children with special needs : The Swedish way

The most important idea of the ProChil project is learning from each other, listening to each other, getting inspiration from abroad. As the systems of Early Childhood Education and Care varies in different EU countries, there are different methods, different ways to deal with problems. In the project each of the partners deals with a specific topic. In March, during our stay in Antwerpen we had the possibility to discuss these topics. Johanna and Sofie from Brudhammars Förskola, our  Swedish partners, held a workshop about addressing special educational situations. 

In a short series of article we will bring you information on the following topics:

  • Adaptation to ECEC
  • Self esteem of the child
  • Integration of children with another mother tongue
  • Working with children from families with different social problems
  • Working with children with special needs

Working with children with special needs 

In Brudhammar’s classes in preschool the team integrate all children with special needs. The needs of the children vary, and according to Swedish law, it is the responsibility of the teachers to care for every child’s needs. The responsibility for educators is to see the strengths of each child. We see to these strengths and abilities when we make a plan on how to work with the child.

The teachers work with the children to learn for life. This means that the children will do everything they can every day. The teachers are responsible for challenge the children so that they develop further and can live an independent life as adults.

The teachers get help from special needs educator, psychologists and speech therapists to create a good network of contacts around the child. With the help of these groups, they create a plan for the child.

A special process used in Brudhammar Förskola is that the teachers are filming themselfs in different situations and then sit down with a special needs educator to analyze the films. This allows them to see what they are doing wrong and change their actions.

The parents are aware that different people are involved in their child’s education at preschool. This means that we do not need any special permission from parents every time we need to consult different professions. These different people give our taechers different tools to then evaluate our work and challenge us further.

In order to create a daily life for the children, children with special needs have the right to extended time in preschool. Different children have different needs and in order to work with the different needs that arise we need different tools. Children who have some kind of autism need a clear structure during the day where it is clear what will happen. Many of these children also lack the spoken language, which means we need to replace this with something.

To support the language, we work with ”signs as support” which is a simplified sign language. The important thing is that we use the spoken language and signs at the same time.  To clarify daily activities, we use image support and pictograms. The images can be photos, painted images or black and white pictograms. These images can be set up as a schedule on the wall to clarify what the day will happen during the day. The pictures can also be attached to a key ring that the taechers brings along during the day to allow the them to show the child different options of activities. This gives the child an opportunity to choose and to influence his or hers situation.

In the hall we also have pictures of different clothes. Every day we put up pictures of the clothes that the child needs to wear outdoor that day. The child se what to wear and eventually it will be possible be able to wear the right clothes without guidelines. If the child can not interpret pictures, we instead use concrete things to describe different activities. We always talk about what works for the specific child and how the child should be able to understand.

Children who have different forms of need for special support often need fewer children to relate to when they participate in different activities. Therefore, teachers can divide their group into smaller groups to adapt so that everyone can participate. Being fewer children may also be needed at the meals so that the child can concentrate and focus on his task.

In order to facilitate these children him or her can also have a designated spot at the meal. You can mark it with the child’s name or a specific color. This color can then also be used in the children’s clothes etc.

Children with different hearing problems can be helped by different types of noise attenuation. There are boards to hang on walls thar reduse the noise and you can have fabrics in different toy boxes. You can also have felt pads under chairs and tables that also dampen the sound.